Food: Tokyo

Of our entire trip, Tokyo has been the most interesting thus far and frankly, I don’t think any place will top it. So as I wrote in a previous post, the kitchen area in the house was basically non-existent.  I had a very tiny counter space, a single burner cooktop, and one saucepan.  We also had two trips planned away from Toyko, so I knew the need to cook would be limited. Still, we would need to eat breakfast, lunches, and a couple of dinners at the house, so I was off to explore the grocery.

In our neighborhood, there were several min-shops or convenient stores, 7-11 like shops.  We often picked up bread, yogurt, milk, eggs, cream, and even product at these shops.  I did seek out a larger grocery store and found a Santoku about a half mile from the house. I took my two reusable grocery bags and off I went.

Here’s my research data on Santoku:

  • 9 apple varieties.
  • None. All the bread was baked in the bakery.  I did find sliced sandwich bread.
  • 16 milk varieties in the refrigerated section — I think. Honestly, I really struggled with the labels on products. I know -0- Japanese and though I tried, I struggled more in Japan than any other country.
  • 2-levels. The main level was basically the bakery, produce, and pre-packaged meals, and the second level had 4-small alias with cheese, meat, and packaged goods.

Other comments about food in Tokyo:

  • The checkout process at the Santoku was confusing. Knowing I was going to struggle to communicate with the clerk, I stood back and watched as a few other people went through the checkout line.  One thing I’ve learned in my travels, watch and observe — you can learn a lot about social normals and queues simply by watching.  The checkout process is basically two steps.  Step One: The attendant takes your items scans them and places them back into a basket/cart. You then pay the attendant.  Step Two: Take the basket from the attendant and head to a separate area across from the cash registers and bag your own groceries. At first, I was a little reluctant, but after watching the processes I think it was actually a much better way to move people through the check-out line. #lessonslearnesfromjapan
  • I was surprised by the number of pre-packaged meal options.  The entire front entrance of the store was filled with pre-packaged deli/restaurant style meals. Not just salads and sandwiches, but curry chicken, meatballs, fried chicken, beef … everything. I also noticed that many people in the check-out line were just purchasing these pre-packaged meals, which after considering most Japanese homes don’t have a full-kitchen, pre-packaged meals make a ton of sense.
  • Honestly, we ate out way too much in Toyko.  I cooked at the house maybe 4-times total.  I think we were all sick of eating out by the time we left Tokyo!

Here are some photos from the Santoku:

^One of the very few places I’ve seen eggs in a refrigerator.

^ Checkout, step 1.

^ Checkout, step 2.

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